Patch, matrix and disturbance variables negatively influence bird community structure in small-sized managed green spaces located in urban core areas

Vasilios Liordos, Jukka Jokimäki, Marja Liisa Kaisanlahti-Jokimäki, Evangelos Valsamidis, Vasileios J. Kontsiotis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Patch, matrix and human-induced disturbance variables are important in determining the structure of urban bird communities. Although green spaces in urban core areas are usually small and disturbed, they can be important for local bird diversity. Because such areas are often overlooked, their study is critical for successfully incorporating biodiversity conservation in urban planning. Furthermore, comparing bird communities from different biogeographical areas would help identify generalizable patterns and propose common management actions. We compared the structure of breeding season bird assemblages of managed small public green spaces in the urban core areas of two similar-sized European cities, Kavala (Greece) and Rovaniemi (Finland), and studied the influence of environmental variables on community structure. Species composition differed between the cities. Abundance and evenness were higher in Kavala, while richness and diversity did not differ between the cities. Abundance did not respond in a general way to the same variables in the two cities. It increased with decreasing shrub cover and distance from the city center and with increasing midday noise and ground cover in Kavala, but increased with increasing distance from the city center and decreased with increasing car traffic and midday noise in Rovaniemi. This might be explained by the lower abundance of bird dwellers in Rovaniemi. Primarily gray cover, but also other variables, at both the patch and matrix levels (e.g., noise, car traffic, distance from the city center), negatively affected richness, evenness and diversity in both cities. Green space size was positively correlated with richness and diversity in Kavala, but not in Rovaniemi, possibly due to the smaller size variation in Rovaniemi. Results emphasized that increasing gray cover is harmful for birds in small-sized green spaces in urban core areas. However, urban managers should note that not all bird community metrics responded in similar ways to same environmental variables.

Original languageEnglish
Article number149617
Journal Science of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Breeding season
  • Human disturbance
  • Impervious surfaces
  • Small urban parks
  • Species richness
  • Urbanization

Field of science

  • Ecology, evolutionary biology


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